Demons Took My Daughter
Now, I don't know much about children. I don't have any, nor was I ever a child myself (I was hatched fully formed from an egg). However, I have learned a few things about children from television and video games. Children are, generally, sassy vessels containing life lessons and professionally written witticisms. They also routinely get kidnapped. Sometimes it's be menacing foreigners, but if it's a Nerdook game you know it's going to be some sort of monster. Like Nerdook's newest game Demons Took My Daughter, which combines action, defense, and even platforming (not to mention cool shades) for a unique and bizarre experience.
Your goal is to guard the pile of plush toys on the right side of the screen from the demons coming from the left. Build barriers by placing blocks with unique abilities to hold off the demons who swarm in through the portals on the left, trying to snatch your only hope of finding your daughter; her favourite stuffed toys. No, no... don't try to make too much sense of it. You'll only get a headache. Use the [arrow] keys to move around, tapping [up] to fly; you'll automatically attack enemies you're close to. Since you can't very well hold off the legions of H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks all on your own, you'll have to build defenses using blocks, which have different effects. What do they cost? Oh, just YOUR SOUL... s. Enemy souls, to be precise, which must be grabbed when you slay a demon. You can use the number keys (, , , etc) to drop blocks where you stand, or press [down] while standing on a block to sell it. If the action gets too frantic, hit the [spacebar] to pause the game; while paused, you can still place and sell blocks.
There are a total of 18 different blocks each with different attributes concerning damage, firing speed and other abilities. One block stuns enemies, another deals damage based on how many demons are on screen and there's one that eats enemies. Each blocks costs a certain number of souls which you get from killing demons. You can only take six blocks with you on each stage, so choose carefully. There are six worlds consisting of four stages each, plus one final end stage. Most stages introduce new enemies and blocks. Just like blocks, enemies have different attributes. In the final stage of every world there's a boss demon. If you manage to beat a stage without losing any toys you'll get a golden soul. Collect five golden souls and you can trade them in at the shop for an upgrade.
Analysis: As you would expect from a game by Nerdook, Demons Took my Daughter is inventive and looks great; if the by-now-signature hybridized gameplay didn't tip you off, then the developer's distinctive, cartoonish style should have been a dead giveaway. Nerdook's habit of taking one deceptively simple genre (in this case defense games) and combining it with others makes their games a real treat to play. Every enemy is distinct and well crafted and the blocks have a lot of variety.
Unfortunately, what doesn't have a lot of variety is the gameplay. After a while, you might find yourself wishing for more challenging terrain than your tiny window to build in. If you're careful in buying upgrades, the gameplay will probably become a snap, especially since being able to build while paused lets you tear down and reconstruct your defenses on the fly if it seems like too many creatures are getting past you.
But what's great about Demons Took My Daughter is how it takes a typically uninvolving genre like defense and combines it with action and platforming to give you a more hands-on feel. Instead of feeling like you can sit back and basically allow the game to run itself to sweet, sweet victory, you now have to stay on your toes and actually take part in the battle if you want to win. While it won't be for everyone, Demons Took My Daughter is another fine example of creativity from one of our favourite developers, and just goes to show that you can teach an old genre new tricks.